I have been familiar with the name 0f Mother Teresa all my life, but I was not really inspired by her until recently, when I read Malcolm Muggeridge’s short book entitled Something Beautiful for God.
Mother Teresa vowed, as have the men and women who work with her ministries, to work for the poor and to be poor. Many of these men and women were educated and capable of becoming successful based on the modern ideal of making more and more money for personal gain. However, they chose to do the opposite. They gave more and more, and remained poor. Yet, they were happy. How could this be?
Muggeridge explains in his book that the sisters saw Christ in each person. The service they gave to the poor is really service to Christ. But why give so much? Mother Teresa explains, “It was a challenge for them. They wanted to give everything, and they wanted the hardest.”1
“I want to do this because it is hard!” That is an answer you do not hear very often! Most of the people I talk to are looking for the easiest way to get things done. Perhaps, as homeschooling moms, we are behaving like the sisters; homeschooling is hard work. It is not the easiest way to educate our children. Yet, could we go a step farther by taking on the challenge of homeschooling and fulfilling our responsibilities as an expression of the love we have for God, and doing our teaching and mentoring as we would to Christ himself? Could we do this with more joy?
Mother Teresa explains:
That’s the spirit of our society, that total surrender, loving trust and cheerfulness. We must be able to radiate the joy of Christ, express it in our actions. If our actions are just useful actions that give no joy to the people, our poor people [think students] would never be able to rise up to the call which we want them to hear, the call to come closer to God.2
Do I radiate joy in my mission field? I may radiate some joy when I am talking to parents or teaching grammar and writing. However, when we are at home, my kids probably do not see me radiating joy when I am explaining long division for the ten millionth time, calling out Latin vocabulary, or imploring them to stop wasting time and get back to work! I need to learn to perform these tasks like the sisters perform theirs. Therefore, I searched Muggeridge’s book for some tips related to this. Here is what I found: the sisters spend time with the Lord every morning, beginning at 4:30 a.m. (you would think I could manage to get up at 7:00 a.m., maybe, for a little quiet time); they encourage each other (I have my “sisters” at my Classical Conversations community. Perhaps I could call someone and encourage them); they serve Christ in every little thing they do for others (even in washing dishes? Doing laundry? Teaching logic? Do it as unto the Lord? Maybe I could).
Mother Teresa says that if we do not radiate joy in our service, then those whom we serve will not be able to hear the call to come closer to God (ouch). I know our goal in homeschooling is to bring our children closer to God. Without love, though, our actions are useless. If we teach with songs and flashy presentations, but have not love…we are but clanging gongs. The difference is not in the child’s actions, it begins with Mom and Dad (ouch).
Another idea that I found thought provoking in this book is that Mother Teresa uses the word beautiful often. Looking at pictures of the slums of Calcutta, it is hard to imagine anything beautiful there. But according to Muggeridge, Mother Teresa redefines beauty, and I love her definition:
Doing something beautiful for God is, for Mother Teresa, what life is about. Everything, in that it is for God, becomes beautiful, whatever it may be; as does every human soul participating in this purpose whoever he or she may be.3
I highly recommend reading this book, which contains much more wisdom than I can mention here. You will study it in Challenge II (it is available from the Classical Conversations bookstore), but do not wait until then. Read it now and…
Let’s embrace our challenges because it will demonstrate how much we love God.
Let’s radiate joy because it will help our children know God.
Let’s remind each other that what we are doing is beautiful.
Let’s do something beautiful for God, too.
1 Muggeridge, Malcolm. Something Beautiful for God. New York: The Mother Teresa Committee by Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc., 1971. p. 98.
2 Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God, p. 98.
3 Muggeridge, Something Beautiful for God, p. 125.